Monday, January 19, 2015

Review: The Hound at the Gate (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #3) by Darby Karchut

Title: The Hound at the Gate 
Author: Darby Karchut
Publisher: Spencer Hill Middle Grade 
Published: January 13, 2015 
Purchase: Amazon  |  B&N

Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.

Especially for one young apprentice.

At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.

While he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.

It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that his blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan. 


The third installment in the Adventures of Finn MacCullen series starts off a bit differently from the others. Usually the story is set at Gideon and Finn's house in Colorado and most of their time is spent training in their backyard, but this time around we find Gideon and Finn preparing for the Festival of the Hunt, where Tuatha de Danaan gather and hunt Amandan and celebrate their heritage. It is definitely different from the other two books, but I really enjoyed the change in story.

I found the festival very interesting, and we met some new characters there as well. One of those characters is Tara, whom I'm not fond of. She's a bit bratty, but I think that's intentional because Finn and Lochlan don't care too much for her, either. We also meet Jack and Ennis, both of whom Finn gets off on the wrong foot with. And of course we revisit some other less-than-lovable characters such as Lochlan's father and Iona. However, this book has lots of character growth. I really grew to like Ennis; and both he and Finn were able to overcome their differences, and I love when that happens between two characters.

Speaking of characters, it's time to talk about my favorites now :-)

Lochlan: As Mac Roth's apprentice and Finn's best friend, Lochlan has a special place in my heart. He goes through a lot of struggles in this book (trying to earn his torc, trying to make his dad proud of him, etc etc); but I loved watching him work those problems out, and I think they made him stronger in the end.

Mac Roth: Have I mentioned I love Mac Roth? Because I really love Mac Roth. I love that he's this huge, strong guy with a tough attitude but a kind heart. Mac Roth looks out for not only his own apprentice but also Finn and even Gideon. He would do anything to protect the people he cares about, and that's one of the reasons he will always be a favorite of mine.

Kel O'Shea: Another new character that we meet in The Hound at the Gate is Kel O'Shea. Kel is a female knight, and I would be lying if I said I did not absolutely adore her. I loved the girl power that her character brought, and I love that she never backed down; she was incredibly strong and brave, even in the face of danger. I loved the addition of Kel to the story.

Ennis: I've made notes throughout reading this book; and as I looked back on them, I saw how my feelings toward Ennis changed as I read. Finn and Ennis are cousins, but they did not have a great meeting. But after constant arguing and threats and even a fight, they worked things out and both showed major character growth; and I had mad respect for Ennis at that moment because not only did he show growth but he acted kindly toward Finn despite his guardian's problems with him and Gideon. So I definitely changed my mind about Ennis in the end.

Asher, honorable mention: I was just starting to warm up to Asher when he left the story in book one. I always try to give the "bad guys," so to speak, the benefit of the doubt. I don't know why, but every time a character is introduced that comes off as an antagonist, I hold out hope that maybe they're not really bad and try to find the good in them. I refused to believe Asher was really a bad guy; I had hope that maybe he was just misunderstood or bitter about something. Luckily, it turned out I was right. He really started to come around and show major change, but it was cut short and that hurts my heart to this day; and that is why I will always mention Asher in my reviews. I loved his character, and I miss him <3

Once again, Mrs. Karchut's writing has kept me captivated, and she remains one of my very favorites. Although the setting has changed, the action has not; and our favorite characters still face the always-present threat of the Amandan. Fights break out, secrets are revealed, and an unexpected twist forces Finn and Gideon to trust someone they never thought they could. With everything that happened in The Hound at the Gate, I'm ready for the next book in this series right. now. I don't know how I'll wait!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. A huge thank-you to the author and publisher! 

My Rating: 
five Celtic knots

About the author: 

Darby Karchut is an award-winning author, dreamer, and compulsive dawn greeter. Her books include the Griffin Rising series, the Adventures of Finn MacCullen series, and writing as Darby Kaye, The Stag Lord and its sequel, Unholy Blue.

A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and Pikes Peak Writers, Darby has been known to run in blizzards and bike in lightning storms. When not dodging death by Colorado, she writes urban fantasy for tweens, teens, and adults.

You can find Darby here: 

Website  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

© at A Belle's Tales



  1. Thank you, Mckenzie, for this awesome review! You make my heart dance an Irish jig!

  2. Mckenzie this is such a wonderful review. I feel terrible that I fell behind on this series! I really need to make the time to get caught up on it. It sounds so wonderful and fun and I really loved the characters. Awesome awesome review!

  3. Great review, Mckenzie!

    This sounds like a wonderful series; one I need to get into! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  4. I have this series on my list and can't wait to read it! I loved this review, Mckenzie! This sounds like a fabulous book. :)

  5. never heard of this, but sounds very fun!


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